review: 12 years a slave (2013)

Wow. This movie really got to me. And I mean REALLY got to me. I was afraid that everyone had built this film up way too much for me, possibly ruining it – but no, that was definitely not the case. I watched this at home with my mother last night, and literally just lay there in shock after it was finished, not moving a muscle, for about half an hour.

This film is based on the book written by Solomon Northup, following his story as a slave in the US in the early 1800s. Chiwetel Ejiofor gave an absolutely heart-wrenching performance, grasping the perfect balance between being tortured damaged, but remaining resilient, strong and stubborn. He was beautifully complimented by the lovely Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey, a young woman forced to work with Solomon.

While this renowned scene where Solomon is forced by their master, Edwin Epps, into repeatedly striking Patsey with a whip was overwhelmingly powerful, the long, drawn out sequence in which Solomon was left abandoned, balancing on the tips of his toes with a noose around his neck for an inhumane length definitely hit me the with the most intensity. It just showed how easily the slaves of this time were forgotten, disappearing into the muddled, messy depths of history.


Solomon left to hang in the yard.

Moreover, the entire film was accompanied by various songs and uplifting hymns, sung by the slave characters. Some appeared to clash violently with what was actually going on in the picture, in the story – ultimately making it even more horrible and painful to watch. At the moment when Tibeats (Paul Dano) starts to sing his parodic anthem while everyone works around him, I almost got up and left the room – and would have, if my eyes weren’t stuck, and glued to the screen.

Heart-wrenching moment as Solomon is forced into whipping Patsey.

Heart-wrenching moment as Solomon is forced into whipping Patsey.

Anyways. You must watch this. Must.

Bring a box of tissues with you.

just my rating: ★★★


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